, eh? Finally ready to move on to the meat of the show? Not so fast. We’re starting all over again on the West Coast, and we have three new "faculty" members. Chris Prinzo (dance and vocal coach), Jen Malenke (vocal coach), and Regina Williams (dance instructor) will be shepherding our West Coast wannabees on their way to end credit music video stardom. (Spoilers ahead…)

Following the format of the East Coast auditions, we have an open call as well as several surprise auditions on the road. Our first memorable performer is Olivia Bonilla ("Considers Herself a Bookworm"), who sings a country-tinged version of "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. She doesn’t make it through, sadly, but I thought she was really solid for a 16-year-old. However, her song choice reminded me of sad homeless puppies and kittens, which was kind of a downer.

Our first road trip auditioner, Christina ("Was Considered a Tomboy in High School"), is all the way out in Hawaii. Can I take a minute to point out that Regina makes a weird face when she’s listening to songs, and it almost looks like she’s going to cry? Anyway, the adorable Christina makes it through. Next we’re off to Austin, Texas, to meet the real-life Ryan and Sharpay. Um, terrifying? Sean and Kelli ("Talk at Least 12 Times a Day on the Phone") are BFF, and they are freaking adorable. So freaking adorable that Chris couldn’t split them up–they’re both going to the semi’s.

Much like in the East Coast round, the open call is much less interesting than the road auditions. There’s something about seeing these kids in their element that’s much more compelling than the same old nervous auditions. Plus, the road audition folks are pre-screened, so they’re generally better than the ones right off the street.

Ether ("Plays 12 Instruments"), in Lincoln, Nebraska, is the nerdiest-looking kid you could imagine, but has amazing stage presence and personality. He easily moves into the semi’s. Back at the open call, Britney ("Finished Senior Year in 4 Months") is wearing so much makeup that she looks like she’s 30 instead of 18, but she totally rocks "Whole New World."

In Pismo Beach, Ally ("Zac Efron Went to her High School") is playing Sharpay in a local theater production, and impresses Regina enough to make it to the semi-finals. She seems good, but that totally sucks for the people playing the lead roles in that production! Blair ("Has a Home Recording Studio") squeaks through into the semi’s at the open call based on his charm as well as his talent. Chris finds Shayna ("Taught Herself to Play Guitar") on the road, and while I’m predisposed to dislike her because she sounds a bit spoiled (recording studio in the basement, private vocal coach), she seems legitimately cool, and I love her style. Happily, she makes it through.

Closing out the night for us in terms of stand-outs is Lauren ("Won her High School Talent Show 3 Times") at the open call, who has a warm and energetic personality and a rightfully confident voice. It’s outstanding, she’s moving ahead, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow at the West Coast semi’s!

Are you ready for the finals yet? Who was your favorite performer tonight?

Posted by:Liz Pardue